Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

Is It Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

English is full of words that seem the same, but have subtle differences in their spelling and usage. These tricky words seem designed specifically to trip you up. Recently, we tackled ensure vs. insure. Today, let’s take on another vocabulary conundrum: upwards or upward? Toward or towards?

Or does it even matter?

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.

Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?

Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).

Don’t Leave Your Participles Dangling

Don't Leave Your Participle Dangling

You know what’s really fun to edit? Dangling participles. What’s a participle? Glad you asked.

A participle is an adjective form of a verb, usually formed by adding the suffix –ing to the verb. For example, you might go for a light 15k in your running shoes. Or your sister might be screaming because she burned herself with her curling iron. Make sense?

Let’s take a closer look and find out where these participles go wrong.

Active vs. Passive Voice: The Complete Guide

passive voice

You’ve probably heard people decry the use of the passive voice. “Avoid it at all costs!” they say. That’s a little misleading; the passive voice isn’t always bad.

However, you must understand what it is and learn to recognize it so you can choose how to use it effectively.

Fewer vs. Less: 10 Items or ____

Fewer vs Less

Let’s say you’re living the dream and writing a chapter of word problems for a grade school math textbook. You’ve got a girl named Mandy who has sixteen apples. You’ve got a guy named Frank who has four fewer apples than Mandy.

Wait. Is it four fewer or four less?

Let’s discuss, shall we?

Never Confuse There, Their, and They’re Again

Never Confuse There, Their, and They're Again: There Their They're

Sometimes we need to revisit the basics. We should never assume that we’re above them; there’s a reason that the saying “pride comes before a fall” is still common.

And there is little that brings a writer’s soaring and magnificent prose crashing back to earth faster than using the wrong form of there/their/they’re.

Today, let’s look at these three very different words.

The Tenuous Relationship Between Question and Quotation Marks

We’ve covered when to use quotation marks. But when you throw question marks and exclamation points into the mix, things can get a little tricky. Let’s demystify this quotation mark conundrum, shall we?

Buckle up. We may experience some turbulence.

How to Use Possessives to Show Ownership

How to Use Possessives to Show Ownership

Possessives are a funny thing. When used correctly, they add much-needed clarity to our sentences. But they seem to confound our apostrophe rules.

Let’s sort out this grammar conundrum, shall we? With these rules mastered, you’ll clear up your readers’ confusion and use possessives like a pro.

When Do You Use “Quotation Marks”?

When Do You Use Quotation Marks

A few years ago, I rented a car. Normally this wouldn’t be a memorable event. But an appalling misuse of grammar burned it into my mind, and years later, I haven’t forgotten.

You see, when I went to the airport to return the rental, I saw this wonderfully instructive sign:

Please… LEAVE “KEYS” IN CAR!

And this brings me to today’s grammar lesson: how and when to use quotation marks.

The “Than” Versus “Then” Debacle

The Than Vs. Then Debacle

Sometimes you have to get back to basics. All writers are guilty of making mistakes at some point, and they kick themselves for months after an astute reader notices that they added one too many o’s to their “to.” Once that’s in print, you can’t take it back.

So today, I’d like to draw attention to one common mistake so that you will hopefully never have to take it back: the then-vs.-than debacle.